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Friday, February 6, 2009
ABC 1, MRC 0
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has been screeching for a while now about a Politico report that ABC host George Stephanopoulos engages in daily round-robin calls with former colleagues James Carville, Paul Begala and Rahm Emanuel, as they have since the Clinton administration. The MRC has decided that this means Stephanopoulos is a shill for the Obama administration, and has been on the attack ever since.

A Jan. 29 press release featuring MRC honcho Brent Bozell demanding that Stephanopoulos "must from this point forward recuse himself from any reporting involving the Obama Administration" was followed by a Feb. 4 open letter to ABC News president David Westin demanding that "ABC News must address this publicly and comprehensively" (bold underline in original), adding the not-so-subtle threat:

ABC News may decide that silence is the best policy. I assure you that will be a mistake. We will not stop this discussion. If you think you are bleeding audience numbers now, what do you suppose will be your audience’s reaction when it is established that your Chief Washington Correspondent continues to be a key strategist for the Democratic Party?

ABC has now responded in a letter by Kerry Smith, senior vice president of editorial quality at ABC News, posted by Politico's Michael Calderone, and he attacks right back, accusing Bozell and the MRC of deception:

In your letter and public utterances you falsely assert that ABC News has been silent on this matter. That is simply untrue. Upon reading your press release last week, we reached out to the MRC to make it abundantly clear that you had totally mischaracterized the Politico story written by John Harris last Tuesday.  Indeed, Politico posted a story last Friday by Ben Smith pointing out exactly how badly you had mangled the facts.

Oh, but it gets better:

Furthermore, last Friday, a reporter from CNS News, which was founded by you and continues to be directly affiliated with the MRC, contacted our media relations staff for a piece he'd been assigned to write on this very topic. We cooperated immediately and provided him an on the record response. We have since learned from your reporter that his story was killed. 

As County Fair's Jamison Foser points out, the question now is whether the CNS story was killed so that Bozell could claim that ABC refused to talk about it. Refusing to tell the other side of the story is certainly of a piece with CNS' new aggressive anti-Obama agenda.

How will Bozell -- not to mention CNS' Terry Jeffrey -- respond to being called on their BS? We can't wait to find out. 

UPDATE: Corrected author of ABC letter.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:07 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, February 8, 2009 1:11 AM EST

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